I found this today

In preparation for my upcoming business trip I took my big suitcase out of the closet today to start packing and found this laundry bag from the Grand Wailea inside. Sigh. Dan and I had such a great time in Hawaii last November and I’d love to be back there again right now. We’ve talked about going back this fall, maybe to Kauai, but it’s much less likely than last year. But if I can earn the frequent flyer miles soon enough a 2012 Hawaiian vacation it’s definitely not off the table. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

5 Best Things I Ate in 2011

After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve compiled a list of the five best things I ate in 2011. Not surprisingly the of majority of my best meals happened on vacation. Whether the food is just better or whether it’s just more memorable, eating at new and different places is one of the best parts of being on vacation. Not that Dan and I don’t go to a lot of great restaurants in Los Angeles (as evidence by the other items in this list), but you can’t beat meals in exotic locales. So here they are the five best things I ate in 2001 in no particular order.

1) Dinner at Mama’s Fish House in Pai’a, HI – Liliko’i colada (non-alcoholic), Maui onion soup, Slow cooked beef rib with kalua pig on the side, and “Polynesian Black Pearl” chocolate and liliko’i dessert (see photo above)
2) Frozen butterbeer and pumpkin juice at Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL
3) Butternut squash soup, cookies, and Blue Sky soda at the California Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco, CA
4) “Philly cheesesteak” sandwiches at The Bazaar restaurant in Los Angeles, CA
5) Roasted lamb tacos at Border Grill in Santa Monica, CA

Honorable mention: Homemade chocolate chip, blueberry, lemon raspberry, orange cranberry, and cinnamon scones at my favorite holiday potluck at work.

2011 in pictures

Disneyland 1/8-1/9/11 (Photo album here)

Big Bear 2/25-2/27/11 (Photo album here)

Harry Potter World 3/25/11 (Photo album here)

Hawaiian party 7/23/11 (Photo album here)

Long Beach marathon 10/9/11 (Photo album here)

Halloween party 10/29/11 (Photo album here)

San Francisco 11/4-11/7/11 (Photo album here)

Hawaii 11/11 (Photo album pending)

Tallahassee 12/8-12/12/11 (Photo album here)

Christmas 12/11 (Photo album here)

In-flight ramblings on the way back from Maui

Here we are on our flight back from Maui. These last nine days have really flown by. I can’t believe we’re already on our way home. I spent the last half hour trying to compile a list of the things we did on the second half of our trip (to complete the one I posted about the first half of our trip last Monday), but was I wasn’t very successful. For example, we saw so many different sights on the Road to Hana that I can’t remember half of them. I vividly recall the hikes where we ended up covered in mud to see some gorgeous waterfall, but there were plenty of other places that didn’t provide much lasting memories. Dan is asleep right now or we’d probably be poring over the tour books trying to make the list more detailed. I’m in a similar situation with the second half of the list of the delicious food I ate on Maui. I’m going to need to look at some of the online menus for the restaurants we visited to recall exactly what I ordered. And there were way too many items on the buffet at the Old Lahaina Luau for me to remember everything, even after looking at the picture I took of my dinner plate! On the flip side, with the exception of today Dan and I either hiked, swam, snorkeled, or some combination of those activities every day of this trip. We never spend much time sitting around on our trips, which is probably why I always lose weight on vacation. No matter how much we eat, we get plenty of exercise to balance it out. In the past nine days I’ve more time in a bathing suit, covered in sunscreen (and sometimes bug spray too) than I have since my summer camp days. It’s been great! (And speaking of bug spray, I tried just about everything to keep from getting bitten, but I still got a bunch of nasty bites all over my legs in Hana. I used spray, dryer sheets in my pockets (recommended by a local in Hilo last year), and one of those clip on devices. Nothing really worked.) Who cares if I didn’t look as good in my bikini as I did a year ago? Let’s just hope I don’t start crying when I see the pictures. The snorkeling we did this year was so much better than last year. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to have a mask that doesn’t leak! And not being seasick really improved the experience too. It’s impossible to have fun when you’re vomiting off the side of a boat. Trust me, I know. I don’t think I have the energy to write about our entire trip (even though I have a five-hour flight to kill), but Dan and I really had a great trip. The day we flex home from the Big Island last year I was so ready to get home because I was tired of being hot (most of our hotels didn’t have AC), eaten by mosquitoes (Hilo was awful), and covered with sunscreen. My skin was dry, but never quite clean. Getting on that air conditioned plane to go back to Los Angeles was wonderful – especially since the entire Kona airport is outside with no place to escape the heat. Yuck. This year things are very different. When our plane took off from Kahului I wasn’t ready to go home! Luckily there are only three workdays this week before Thanksgiving, but I know they’ll be busy. Well, here’s to getting back to our normal lives. Aloha!

Bargain bin bathing suits

Last year when October rolled around I realized that I had missed the optimal time to buy bathing suits for our first trip to Hawaii. I only had two old bikinis from Target tucked away in my dresser and the elastic in one of them had died since I’d last worn it. That left me with exactly one wearable bathing suit which wasn’t enough. My weight was so variable in 2010 that I probably wanted to lose a few more pounds before I went shopping, but that didn’t happen during the summer months. So when I was finally prepared to try on bikinis without crying it was way too late in the year for me to have a lot of options. But any suits that were left in the store should be like 50% off, right? My first stop was a store at South Coast Plaza called Everything But Water which I discovered sold their bathing suits at the same inflated prices all year ‘round. It was ridiculous, but I was desperate so I tried on anything that I didn’t hate. I ended up buying two tops (one black and the other black and white) and two bottoms (both black), even though only one of each really fit correctly, and the cost was astronomical. I really needed them for our trip, though, so I handed the unhelpful sales girl my credit card. I was feeling very unsatisfied as I drove home from the mall which led to a last minute decision to go to a little clothing shop on Main Street in Seal Beach called Endless Summer where I used to shop when I was an intern. I knew they had a wall full of suits every summer so I was hoping they’d still have a decent selection in October. I was in luck! While their stock was definitely depleted that late in the year I was able to get tops and bottoms for $15 apiece. That was music to my ears. I must have tried on a bikinis – everything in my size that I thought was even a remote possibility (no string tops, thank you very much). While nothing was perfect I ended up buying two matching sets and one extra bottom that I could wear with the black top from Everything But Water. So I took four bikinis with me to Hawaii last year, but I only ended up wearing two of them because the Big Island doesn’t have that many beaches. Oh well. When we got home I stuffed them into a drawer and pretty much forgot about them. Fast forward to summer 2011. Another trip to Hawaii was quickly approaching and once again I was trying to lose a few pounds before going bathing suit shopping. Ladies, this is never a good idea. From my personal experience, no matter how you think you look there are going to be women on the beach who look better than you and a whole lot more that look worse than you. So suck it up (and suck it in) and go buy those bikinis when the stores are practically bursting with them! But anyway, I never was brave enough to go on that shopping trip this year so when it came time to pack my suitcase for Maui I was just hoping that the elastic hadn’t died in any of last year’s purchases. Luckily it hadn’t so I threw the three bikinis I liked the most (and took the ones I hated to Goodwill) and headed to Hawaii. Turns out those bargain bin bathing suits worked great! I wore my old Target bikini on our first snorkeling trip last Saturday, but I realized how out of date it was when I saw what the other women were wearing. Side ties on the bikini bottom used to be popular, but now they are so 2007! One of my other bikinis was the black top from Everything But Water and a cheap black and white polka dot string bottom from Endless Summer which turned out to be a really good combination. As much as I’d like to cover up my less than stellar physique when I’m on the beach, I’ve discovered that smaller bikini bottoms look best on my body type. The polka dotted bottom is very small, but actually more flattering that something like boy shorts. So don’t be afraid to show a little extra skin, ladies! Sometimes it just looks better. My last bikini was a matching Billabong set from Endless Summer. The top and bottom of the suit are the same size, but my body’s top and bottom are not – only the bikini bottom really fits and the top is too small. It’s not vulgar or anything so I still wear it, but I would have liked to find the matching top in a larger size. And this would have been possible if I’d shopped for bathing suits in the summer, but I have to live with the results of my procrastination. (On a side note, isn’t it great how they sell bikini tops and bottoms separately these days? I think it’s of the best innovations in retail. I can’t be the only person who needs a larger top and a smaller bottom.) Overall I’m very happy with the results of my bargain bin bathing suits. They did the job and didn’t break the bank, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone else waiting until the last minute like I did! I vowed to Dan that I was going to shop for new bikinis (ones that fit properly) during the appropriate season in 2012. Not that we have any more tropical vacations planned, but it can’t hurt to be prepared. We’ll see if I can keep my promise.

P.S. I just realized that I already told half of this story in a post on 10/27/10. Oh well!